News reports today that the federal New Democratic Party is debating changing the word “socialist” to “social democratic” in its constitutional preamble, but that Jack Layton has nixed suggestions the party should sever its ties to organized labour.
See, this is why I’m not a New Democrat, because in my world it’d be better off the other way around.
“Social democratic” is a weasel term, often used (as it would be with the NDP) to shy away from actually having balls. Alternately, the term is simply meaningless.
British Labour is a social democratic party. So maybe Jack wants to be Tony Blair and invade someplace? Or maybe he’d prefer to be current leader Ed Miliband, who last week launched a campaign against benefit cheats. How progressive!
About the union thing, the irony is that I do belong to a union yet personally I find the NDP’s alliance with the Canadian Labour Congress to be outdated and it’s probably meaningless to most voters.
Recent labour disputes involving Canada Post and Air Canada remind those of us who have worked hard to find success as entrepreneurs that organized labour represents the haute-bourgeoisie more than the hoi polloi. Look, I think the government’s eager-beaver legislative approach to end labour disputes is wrong, but I’m damned if I’m going to sympathize with postal workers.
Besides, many social democratic parties around the world are called Labour, choose union officials to be candidates, support pro-worker policies etc. etc. without formal ties to the unions themselves.
How useful are union votes to the NDP anyway? Dippers from Hamilton and Windsor might disagree, but I always think of Oshawa as the quintessential Ontario union town, and Oshawa elects Conservatives now. Oshawa was once a three-way marginal but now all three area seats (Durham, Oshawa, Whitby-Oshawa) are majority CPC. This just makes me cry.
My erstwhile mentor Bob once opined that unions’ past successes have paved the way for the demise of traditional working class values in cities like Oshawa. That’s not the opinion of some right-wing creep; Bob is a former local labour council leader. I think he meant that with affluence comes the need to protect one’s position; or, as Camus wrote, “The slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown. He must dominate in his turn.”
Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but alas, the unionist of today is less likely to be a Dipper than a mini-van-driving suburbanite who loves the shit out of Bev Oda.
Since these folks already have a political party to speak for their interests, i.e. the Conservative Party of Canada, I really don’t get why the NDP bothers.
All this muddy, middle-of-the-road social democracy talk surely has Tommy Douglas rolling in his grave. Douglas and the Saskatchewan CCF never really liked the idea of allying with labour anyway; they thought it would dilute the party’s socialism. Hmm. And it’s no good bringing back the Waffle, ’cause, well, that’s just today’s Québec wing, n’est-ce pas?
Oh well, at least the NDP were kind enough not to tweet “press 2” all day like the Liberals I’m following. Oy vey.